October 24, 2011

Jonah Bromwich will sell you two pills for $10 bucks.

Kendrick diagnosed the sickness and now that I can recognize the symptoms, it’s clear that my generation’s illness is on full display. It’s even popping up in the names. The Doctor’s newest acolyte said it was A.D.H.D. and a couple of other self-aware subjects that I found in Dallas were on a similar spectrum, minus a little bit of hyperactivity. I don’t know why I wasn’t satisfied with that (I guess I’m just a little neurotic) but I flew all the way up to Chicago just to visit another sick doctor. He agreed with the first two, though he pronounced it add as in addition, and added a two to the end, probably to respect the others who understood the illness before he did.

Rappers born in the late eighties were teenagers when the dominance of hardcore lyricism started to recede, which means we’re finally done with the whining that we saw five years ago or the Electronica-esque pledges to save hip-hop. We’re seeing distinct personalities, raised on the icons of the nineties and the aughts come into their own; focused on rapping well (without the illusion of being “lyrical,” a cage that’s become synonymous with a lack of popularity) over good beats with a distinct worldview and personality. The topics are varied, but because these kids seem comfortable with who they are (the new school is blessed with 80% less posturing) you get albums and mixtapes which function as windows into lives that are easy to recognize and to relate to.
Add2 doesn’t have the just-add-drums charisma of K.R.I.T., Kendrick, Yela, Danny, Exquire or Nacho but he’s got excellent chops and a lot more flavor than the unsalted rice that J. Cole (the same mind set but with nothing to say) provides. Add’s new mixtape, One Missed Call gives props to his influences on the first song; snippets of Nas, Jay-Z, Common and Kanye prop the track up, but Add is his own man, graduating from mimicking the flows of each of his idols in turn to an apt synthesis; a description of a life that manages to distill (self)-consciousness, street poetry and hustling into an intriguing combination.

The mixtape is stacked with similar highlights. “Gotdamn “ shows off a studied doubletime flow while “She’s a Groupie” breathes new life into an old subject while avoiding the story-from-all-sides gimmick that’s recently put a damper on the truth of the ugly conjugal relations between celebrity and mysogny (in rap that is; R&B has picked up the slack.)

“Maybe it’s Me” provides paranoia and faithlessness subtle enough to sound quotidian and again, relatable. And “Iron Mic” takes the bravado of the eponymous boxer when he was dangerously crazy as opposed to adorably crazy and builds it into an enviable flow.

Add-2 isn’t infected as badly as some of his peers. He’s still too much the sum of his influences. But the consistency of One Missed Call is promising, not only for the Chicago rapper but for this generation in general. The disease has gone airborne and it’s spreading rapidly, evolving into strains that seem almost as numerous as they were in the last golden age. Be warned: rap is again finally sick in all the right ways.

MP3: Add2 – One Missed Call (Left-Click)

IRON MIC BY ADD-2 from Mike Paulucci on Vimeo.

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